Woman with Red Hair

1 March 2017

an abstract woman of 1917,
no fashion plate, no Cézanne, the long-faced strong-chinned woman

(Modigliani’s masked apparition
in a print I got for nothing, one
thrown out of the Library
of the School of Art
and stuck on my bedroom wall for
20 years)

with fire-orange hair,
left forearm perched like
a bibulous pink toucan
on the orange back of the chair,
right arm dangling,
shapeless dress of bluish-grey,
neckline askew,
distinguished mainly by being
darker than the dirty background

the artist’s expressionless model like an ad
for absinthe

head tilted
eyes a limpid tadpole swimming to a black half-moon
neck and right shoulder a pink swan
the very antithesis of hard work
guaranteed to wreak havoc on all that is decent and bourgeois

how often have I felt like her
(how often, as I grow old)
doomed model to a doomed artist,
a gorgeous, grubby wraith on my wall who can never grow old,
hidden hand holding perhaps a paintbrush,
or a dagger or a pistol or a blue flower,
sitter for a dying painter,
a Jew fond of Nietzsche cursed on Mount Parnassus,
an addict hallucinating in a garret within earshot of the Great War,
worth more than Cézanne the day after he died,
and pickled for immortality.


Notes:
Conventional ekphrastic with elements of notional ekphrastic poem, referencing a specific
print I have of Modigliani’s Woman with Red Hair. At the base of the print it
states on one line: ‛AMEDEO MODIGLIANI — Woman with Red Hair — National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C. (Chester Dale Collection) Published by Shorewood Publishers, Inc.
Distributed by Penn Prints, New York’.

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